Del Mar College Mourning Loss of Regent Gabriel Rivas III
Rivas’ legacy includes successful bond program that redefined the College’s West Campus
Article by: DMC College Relations Office
Del Mar College (DMC) is mourning the passing of Gabriel Rivas III, first vice chair of the College’s Board of Regents. The College extends our deepest condolences to his family and the many friends, colleagues and community members who are also mourning his loss. Rivas was an integral part of the DMC family and most recently was re-elected to represent District 1 in 2018 for a term that would have run through 2024.
Rivas was first elected to the Board in November 2000 and served through 2006. During that six-year term, he served as Board president for four years. He was appointed in August 2007 to the District 1 seat after a Regent resignation left a vacancy and then ran for the seat in 2008 for a second full term.
Gabe was known as a strong advocate and a servant leader when it came to education. He devoted close to twenty years of his life in service to the students, faculty and staff of Del Mar College. He was a valued, seasoned member of the Del Mar College Board of Regents, and his passing will undoubtedly leave a somber void at our board table. I, along with my fellow Regents, send our heartfelt prayers and thoughts to the Rivas family and all those who were blessed enough to know Gabe.
Rivas’ board presidency is characterized by the College successfully passing and implementing a $108 million bond referendum in 2003 with nearly half the funds earmarked for West Campus capital improvements. At that time, the initiative was the largest in the College’s history and led to the construction of the Health Sciences and Emerging Technology Complex, Public Safety Education Complex and Industrial Education Complex on that campus.
Under Rivas’ leadership, the Board maintained property tax levels and lowered the effective tax rate each year. They also approved several new instructional programs, including aviation maintenance, pharmacy technology, nuclear medicine, logistics and supply chain management and an alternative certification for teachers.
Much of the growth and many of the accolades earned at Del Mar College over the past 20 years, in one way or another, were impacted by Regent Rivas. His passionate dedication and support for the College was evident in his spirit and tenacity to promote access to higher education for all. Gabe was a friend and advocate of the community college structure and specifically Del Mar College. His valued insight, leadership and advocacy will not be forgotten. On behalf of the DMC family, I offer my sincerest condolences to his family and all those impacted by this great loss.
Regent Rivas graduated from Roy Miller High School and attended East Los Angeles College, Sam Houston University and the Texas School of Photography. He owned Gabe Rivas Photography and worked as a professional photographer. In the late 1980s, he also attended the local Citizens Police Academy.
Among his many credits, Rivas served as president and district director with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council No 1. The Council selected him as “Man of the Year” in 1984, 1986 and 1987; and in 1986, Texas LULAC named him “Man of the Year” at the state level. Rivas was also a past board chairman of Leadership Corpus Christi’s Alumni Association and was a graduate of the organization in 1987.
Rivas served on several commissions during his career, including the City of Corpus Christi’s Minority Business Owners Commission, Charter Revision Commission, Landmark Commission, Sister City Committee and Human Relations Commission. He was also a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Directors of the Amistad Community Health Center.
Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.